Horses of Hialeah FL

Feral herd of sickly horses on the loose in Hialeah


BY CHRISTINA VEIGA

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

The five feral horses that wandered into a busy Hialeah intersection Saturday night were probably just hungry.

For at least two years, some desperate horse-owners have been dumping their unwanted animals on a 1 ½-square-mile patch of land in the rural northwestern reaches of Hialeah.

Now, a herd of about 20 feral horses is causing problems for farmers and residents of the area south of Northwest 154th Street between Florida's Turnpike and 107th Avenue.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officials suspect the search for food has led to the horses breaking down fences, walking through open gates and even swimming across a lake.

The horses discovered Saturday night had made their way to Graham Dairy Road and Northwest 97th Avenue.

``These horses are scared, they're hungry, they're confused and anything can happen,'' said Jeanette Jordan, president of the South Florida SPCA.

The Hialeah Police Department called in the SPCA to help round up the horses after hearing farmers' complaints and learning the animals had wandered into traffic.

Pedro Hernandez, 44, owns a farm in the area. He said the problem with feral horses has been more than two years in the making.

People dump skinny, sickly horses on the land when they can't afford to feed them anymore, said Hernandez, a Miami-Dade County paramedic. He has more than 80 acres of fenced-in land with horses, cows and chickens, and he's tired of the feral horses coming onto his farm, he said.

``Every time they come here, they break the fence and they fight,'' he said.

It has gotten so bad, Hernandez said, that he plans to round up some friends and try to catch the horses on their own.

``It's out of hand,'' he said.

The land where the horses have been dumped is mostly weeds and undergrowth -- not the green grass they need to keep healthy, Jordan said. So they find their way into farmers' barns and pastures to feed on hay and grain.

So far, 11 horses have been captured and taken to the SPCA facility in Southwest Miami-Dade.

``They've been very neglected,'' Jordan said. ``They're filled with worms, they're filled with parasites.''

Among the animals rounded up: a small, pregnant pony with a broken leg.

But the society doesn't have the space or money to take in the 20 feral horses on top of the 40 it already cares for. Last month's feed bills were about $10,000, Jordan said. Feeding the additional horses captured could add $5,000 to that figure.

``We are just bursting at the seams,'' said Laurie Waggoner, the SPCA's executive director.

The society is asking for donations to help feed the horses, and for foster families to take in some of the horses.

For more information, visit the SPCA website at www.helpthehorses.org

 
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